2019, 12

Latest news from the CtF

Reflections by Chairperson

They say: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Remembering the good old days

Elaine Meyer, a local “Clarenite” says she still remembers the good old days like it was yesterday.

Do not miss the NG Church Christmas Flea Market, held on the famous town square on Saturday, 14 December.  

Mastering muscle toning

Oppas for these aunties.

Cluny Animal Trust

What have they been up to?

Clarens Village Conservancy

They say: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”


Maybe this year was shiny and amazing or perhaps the last 12 months were not as bright. But as the New Year hovers just around the corner, regardless of how this one went, reflecting can be helpful. As we approach the end of the year, we naturally start thinking about what has happened – the ups, downs and everything in-between. Life is meant to be a fun adventure – try to embrace it all! Self-reflection is one of the best ways that you can shift your mindset, increase positivity in your life, and discover a greater connection to yourself and those around us.
20 November 2019

This festive season, we’re fortunate to share a story from a resident about Christmas in Clarens. We hope that this tale will be shared over and over again, bringing people together as they embrace the Christmas spirit! 

With that being said, the holiday is a time for family, food, friends, celebrations, and reminiscing about beloved traditions. To get in the spirit, we’ve asked a few locals to share some of their favourite Clarens moments. If you’re ready to plan a getaway with friends, we herein have tips to help you save money and make your summer memorable. Maybe they’ll spark nostalgia or perhaps give you new ideas to try, either way, we wish everyone a very happy festive season! 

Recolleting celebrations, the Lilizela Tourism Awards graced Clarens with three outstanding achievements “Honouring the best of the best in South Africa”. The winners of Lilizela competed with other provinces during the national competition which took place in October 2019. Business owners scooped up regional wins at this prestigious event.

On behalf of the community we extend a huge congratulations  for these victories that went to Mont d’Or Hotel for winning the In-hotel Conference Centre award; Clarens Xtreme Adventures winner of the Action & Adventure award and Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens as Hotel Winner.

Folks, we have so much to report on – so here it finally is! Remember to grab your stack of brand NEW Clarens Tourism Forum maps from Clarens Xtreme. Again thank you for your time! Until we meet again.

Hometown cycling champion Carla Oberholzer is back to her winning ways!

05 – 08 Sept: KTM Adventure Rally

∧ 21 Sept: The Maluti Motor Show

21 Sept: DSV Highland 100

29 Sept: O, My Folk

∧ 2 Nov: Pinotage on Tap

Remembering the good old days

Elaine Meyer, a local “Clarenite” says she still remembers the good old days like it was yesterday. The days when the Methodist & NG Churches lit candles on Sundays to attract residents but mainly visitors in celebration of the event. This religious ceremony was performed about 6 weeks before and up to Christmas Day.

They also hosted (and still do) the annual Christmas Carols in the garden, although it rained out most of the time. Between 22 – 24 December, Carols By Candlelight and choir accompanied poetry reading by Minda Farrell. A play was performed by Ernestine Goldblatt. Such fabulous local talent – indeed a real treat!

Having fun while getting fit

It is never to late to get fit

“Oppas for these aunties” mustering or shall we rather say mastering their twice weekly muscle toning exercises at the Methodist Church Hall in Clarens. Trim Gym kicked off in 2002, lead by Cecile Nijland who has always been involved in group exercise classes, even back in her Standerton days.

No matter your age, it’s never too late to get fit. Numerous studies found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life. Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. “Our exercise classes help you improve flexibility, agility, aerobic health, balance and strength, regardless of age or ability.” 

The sessions are free for anyone to join and offers a chair so you can do poses seated or standing. Held on Monday`s and Thursday`s at 16h00. Such a fabulous affair!

“These wins are a testimony to what an amazing support system can do for you. If it wasn’t for the people who support me behind the scenes all the time, I would not be where I am today. A massive thank you to my husband Stefan, my Mother Karen who stands in for us at Artists Cafe while we are away racing and training and to all our staff for always believing in me and backing me every step of the way. I love and appreciate you guys.”

2020 is an Olympic year and therefore necessitates racing in Europe in order for Carla to qualify. While she is a bit apprehensive of being away for long periods of time again she knows that in order to reach you goals it requires sacrifice and diligence and she has faith in the people of Clarens who has faith in her. 

Hometown cycling champion Carla Oberholzer is back to her winning ways!

The 2019 cycling season started of shakily for Carla with the news that one of their main sponsors are withdrawing coming to her just a couple of days before the 2019 South African Road Race Championships where she planned to defend her title. Her team was left shaken up and coupled with extreme heat on the day which is not her favourite racing conditions, the best result she could manage was a 5th. The first half of the season continued to be a struggle and together with her husband and then coach they decided that maybe a change is needed and they enlisted the help of a new coach which has vast international experience, in May. Slowly but surely results were starting to come in again with victories at the Kremetart, Panorama Tour and Jock Cycle races. Unfortunately the rollercoaster ride continued and she had a freak accident while out training and broke her pelvis in July. After some time off and a gradual build up back to some sort of fitness she managed a gold medal performance in the team time trial at the African Games in Casablanca, Morocco just 4 weeks later. From here the National Team embarked on a stint to Europe but unfortunately her bad luck continued with another crash in the first race in Italy in September. This time a broken collarbone resulted in her flying back to SA for surgery and also missing out on competing at the World Championships in Yorkshire, England. The build up after the second injury was much slower than after the first but with the amazing support from her husband, family and staff at Artists Cafe Restaurant she managed to bag another two big wins including the Amashova and 947 Ride Joburg Cycle Challenges. This also gave her enough points to once again win the SupportSATalent Road Series for females in 2019.

The Cherry Festival has been running for over 45 years

Time for the Cherry Festival

Each year the small Free State town of Ficksburg bustles with activity as the  oldest crop festival in South Africa springs to life. The Cherry Festival has been running for over 45 years in succession, in the cherry capital of the world, and it promises to be bigger and better each year. The festival offers something for everyone, including sports fanatics who look forward to meeting some of South Africas best-loved sporting greats. There are also soccer, rugby and cricket workshops for different age groups on all three days of the festival where ex-stars of the various disciplines will share their skills with young Bafana-Bafana, Springbok and Protea hopefuls.

The special tours to cherry and asparagus farms are always a highlight for visitors to the Cherry Festival, especially to those who have never seen how their favourite delicacies are produced, and people were once again able to book for outings during which they picked their own cherries.

Feedback on what the Cluny Animal Trust has been up to in Q3 2019

It has been a very busy couple of months for the entire team at the Cluny Animal Trust and here are some of the highlights:


On 5 August 2019 we held the draw for our very first Sweepstake winner – this was the very first time we tried this fundraiser and it was a huge success. In three months, we sold 1000 tickets at R100 per ticket and congrats to Soret Visagie from Bethlehem who won R25,000.00

Potjiekos Competition

Then we held our annual Potjiekos Competition in Clarens on the 22 September. This was without a doubt the best potjie event we have ever had. The most pots and the best attendance! All of the funds raised from the day went towards funding our veterinary work.

2020 Calendar

Selling our 2020 Calendars

On 1 October our calendars for 2020 went on sale for R150 each. The funds raised from the sale of the calendars will help us to sterilise over 80 animals. As you read this, we have less than 27 calendars left so if you would like to get your hands on a calendar, please email imogen@clunyanimaltrust.co.za

Feedback on what the Clarens Village Conservancy has been up to in 2019

Clearing our nature reserve

In support of it’s primary objective of Nature Conservation, the Clarens Village Conservancy (CVC) has recently launched a massive effort to clear the invasive Robinia trees in the Clarens Nature Reserve. As this was an impossible task for our 3 rangers on their own, the CVC hired supervisor Piet and a team of 7 casual workers from Clarens for a period of 2 weeks. Piet and his team concentrated on the cutting and removal of branches, while the rangers followed will treatment of herbicide.


Suszanne de Wet & Elsa Mans are the winners of the Clarens Village Conservation fundraiser! A beautifully painted portrait of a typical Eastern Free State scene and stunning Persian carpet were to be won – compliments from Clarens business owners.

An Interpretation Centre – a first for GGHNP

Guests travelling to Golden Gate Highlands National Park (GGHNP) will be met with an exciting surprise at the Glen Reenen reception area. Through an incredible relationship with SANParks, the Honorary Rangers have built an interactive and informative interpretation centre that encapsulates the diversity of Golden Gate and its broad offerings.

Mr Property Mokoena, Managing Executive, Parks Division, said, “Golden Gate Highlands is one of six parks in the SANParks portfolio that has been targeted for accelerated visitor numbers. The key driver for growth in these identified parks is the elevation of a market profile among both domestic and international visitors through leveraging innovative marketing as well as the introduction of market-relevant tourism products. This is why management is exceptionally excited about the launch of the interpretation centre.

We are confident that the centre will provide the most ideal platform to educate visitors, especially children, about dinosaurs and many other aspects within the study of archaeology.” Des Bothma, a member of the  Honorary Rangers added “the SANParks and Honorary Rangers relationship has been in existence for decades as both our mandates coincide with one another to promote the conservation and preservation of our national heritage. This is why we could not turn a blind eye to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park management when we received a request for assistance with building an interpretation centre within the park.

The discovery of dinosaur eggs is a marvel in South Africa, and what better place than in a National Park?” It has taken more than two years to put together enough information and material for the team to finalise some artwork and get a glimpse of what the final product will look like. The display includes an introduction, Birds, Geology, Fauna, Vegetation, Palaeontology, History, Activities, Facilities, Climate and Rock Art. The project started around October 2017 and the team successfully completed the final stages of installing the artwork, palaeontology specimens, geological specimens, etc.

The interpretation centre is perfect as it takes visitors through a journey of the discovery of dinosaur eggs in our country and the beautiful natural heritage of fauna and flora that is found in the park. This is a gift from the Honorary Rangers and we look forward to more exciting projects across the Northern Region. Mokoena further adds, “We trust that this project will enhance the visitor experience in Golden Gate by opening up the wonderful attributes of the park as well as assist the staff to provide a better service to our clients.”

21 Sept: DSV Highland 100

The Freestate’s only one day 100km MTB marathon, the HIGHLAND 100 took place in the iconic Eastern Highlands village of Clarens. The route took avid riders on a postcard highlights tour of the region, amongst towering buttes and the Maluti’s in the background. It’s designed to make the route fast, not technically difficult. But don’t be fooled this was not an easy day out for everyone!

20 Sept: Oh my Folk

Offered by Optog, an initiative of the Atterbury Trust and sponsored by King Price Insurance, among others. The march brings South Africa’s top artists to the countryside. The event was hosted by Noah’s Cheese. Artists Koos Kombuis, Herman Kleinhans, Bottomless Coffee Band en Johrné van Huyssteen were thoroughly enjoyed by the days supporters.

12 – 13 Oct: Clarens Cosmos Challenge

The new venue is located on the border of Lesotho, providing participants with some of the most breathtaking views. Both trials consisted of two circular loops leading the participants out on some of the most idyllic and picturesque trails, each starting and finishing at Old Mill Drift. Old Mill Drift Guest Farm is a pet friendly mountain paradise for couples, families and groups of friends who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

18 – 20 Oct: Golden Gate Challenge

The Golden Gate Challenge is a 3-day track and trail run through some of the most rugged yet scenic mountains of the Free State, situated in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The race traverse through restricted parts of the reserve rarely seen by the public, like Little Serengeti, Cathedral Caves and many other hidden gems within the park. Participants covered just over 70km in 3 days, staged out of a single base camp in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This successful event has been running for nine consecutive years. 

02 Nov: Pinotage On Tap

(The Original Coffee Chocolate one) – as the name suggests, was literally flowing from the barrel taps, leading live local bands, and an assortment of delectable food offerings, wine pairings, games, surprises and simply the best wine festival experience ever – was the order of the day! Guests who attended this years event once again enjoyed a wine festival that has undoubtedly established a unique offering of spoils and top-notch entertainment.

31 – 03 Nov: Crank Chaos

The annual CrankChaos mountain biking festival is hosted by Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho. It is the highest festival of its kind in Africa.  The Festival offers a variety of fun event options including 5 different downhill lines, enduro, downhill eliminator, dual slalom, whipp off, hillclimb and the strava challenge for the more social riders on its extensive trail network. Oh and the rewards at the top are well worth the effort.

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